BOCAUE, BULACAN—Philippines coach Thomas Dooley would have loved a full stadium backing his team up as it fights to keep its AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal hopes alive tonight.
The first two match days of the competition has seen the Azkals play before some of the smallest crowds involving a host team in the 20-year tournament history. Co-host Myanmar (Burma), in contrast, sold-out its first two games at Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, which can seat 32,000.
The tickets are priced at a reasonable P100 to P500, but it doesn’t help that the 20,000-seater Philippine Sports Stadium (PSS) is about an hour away from Manila. The PSS passed Asean Football Federation standards.
Only 4,300 showed up for the first game when the Azkals drew Singapore last Saturday.
Last Tuesday, the crowd was pegged at 2,000 when the Azkals rallied for a 2-2 draw against Indonesia, whose fans occupied a big section of the main grandstand where they laid out a massive replica of their nation’s flag.
“Of course, I want a bigger crowd supporting us and it’s just sad to see not having a lot of fans, but I really don’t think about that anymore,” said Dooley.